November 15, 2002
Ayler Records
Jazz, Jazz Instrument, Free Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz, Saxophone Jazz

Album Review

When you give birth to a free jazz record label by the name of Ayler Records, you must be dreaming of putting out an album of long-forgotten sessions by the great saxophonist Albert Ayler. It took a while (then again, not that long), but producer Jan Ström managed to get hold of two important sessions recorded in Copenhagen. The suitably titled Copenhagen Tapes contain 45 minutes of a performance at Club Montmartre, September 3, 1964, and another 20 minutes recorded in the studio of the Danish radio a week later. Both sessions were prepared for broadcast (i.e. the tapes were already edited and include occasional presentations in Danish) and feature the little-documented quartet formed by Don Cherry, Gary Peacock, and Sunny Murray. The live set is emotionally ferocious, sax and trumpet crying with clamped fists in a way that has rarely been heard. "Spirits" book-end the session, with "Vibrations," "Saints," "Mothers," and "Children," appearing in-between. Audience chatter and worn tape can become annoying at times, but listening to Peacock's solo in "Vibrations" makes up for most hi-fidelity complaints. The studio set is a different story, sounding warm and clean. The saxophonist presents himself to Danish listeners, in English, explaining what he came looking for in Scandinavia, and the group follows with takes of "Vibrations," "Saints," and "Spirits." These versions move further into free territory, as if the absence of an audience made it easier for the group to let loose. This is one of the strongest recordings of "Saints" available to this day. The Copenhagen Tapes are not the Holy Grail of the Ayler fan and surely not a good place for newcomers to start (because of the repetitions between the two sets). But it makes a highly welcomed addition to the discography of free jazz.
François Couture, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Spirits [Live]
  2. Vibrations [Live]
  3. Saints [Live]
  4. Mothers [Live]
  5. Children [Live]
  6. Spirits [Live]
  7. Introduction
  8. Vibrations
  9. Saints
  10. Spirits